A Modern Slang Dictionary for Your Writer Toolbox

Don’t fight it. Embrace the slang.

This is an Author Toolbox hop post. Every month, the hop supports writers of every stage with resources, ideas, inspiration, tips, and tricks. If you’re thinking that sounds great, you’re right. Come and join us here at author Raimey Gallant’s website.

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Many new words have made their way into the world and spread like a wildfire virus, courtesy of the Internet. If you’re writing contemporary these may be of use to you for dialogue (although, be warned, it will date your book for future readers). If you have no need of them for conversations, they might be good for a laugh.

Either way, enjoy and use this modern slang dictionary with my compliments.

NSFW: Acronym used as a warning on inappropriate content. It means “Not Safe For Work”, i.e. don’t open this picture at work and let your co-workers and boss see it, it’s not appropriate.

wow gif
Basically, if you read it and do this, it’s NSFW

Adulting: Verb. Pertaining to all things responsible, mature, boring and/or soul-sucking. Generally used in a black-humor type of situation.

Example; “Look at all these paid bills sitting here ready to mail. I might be broke now but I am adulting all over this!”

Meme: An idea/belief/behavior that spreads through imitation. Online it nearly always refers to an image that has spread virally and been seen by millions that illustrates the same type of idea. Nearly always used in a humorous context.

*Unless you can give clear credit to the creator it’s best to not use them or just make your own with a meme generator, like I did below.*

Example of a static meme (ALL THE THINGS girl);

 

 

write all the things
credit:sewhitebooks

Gif/Gif file: Identical to a meme, except that instead of a picture it’s a tiny repeating slice of video saved as a .gif file. Think of the moving pictures in the Wizarding world that J.K. Rowling describes and you’ll have it.

Interestingly, no one has legislated against using gifs yet and copyright law has not adapted to cover them. The best advice I could find online was that if you use them for purpose of commentary without trying to take credit for them and without making money off of them, they are OK to have on your blog. For now.

Example of a gif; tumblr_msbbrnajft1rq535ko1_500

 

AF: (NSFW) Generally used at the end of a sentence. Abbreviation for “As fuck”.

Example; “This episode was awesome AF” or “My parents caught me trying to sneak out, it was awkward AF”

TF: (NSFW) Used as an abbreviation for “the fuck”. Almost always used in a questioning/incredulous type of way. Also written out as “Da fuq?” which is meant to be read phonetically.

Examples; “That guy just ran down the street wearing a Rainbow Dash tutu, playing his bagpipes. TF is going on?”

Divorce lawyer: “Hey, just letting you know that I won’t be at your final divorce decree signing since I’ll be out of town. I’m marrying your husband in Tahiti, on the beach, the day after it’s final.”

About to be divorced person: “Da fuq?”

dafuq gif
Excellent example of this sentiment, in action

TBH: “To be honest” abbreviation. Modern equivalent of saying “honestly”. In general, it prefaces something very blunt, but sometimes it’s just plain abbreviation to save time. The beautiful thing about most of this slang is how fluid it is.

Example; TBH, no. That haircut is awful.

TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read. Can be used as a passive-aggressive comment (simply put TL;DR under the article) or as part of a post, generally as a heading for the summary of your article.

Example; TL;DR this post is about Millenial Slang words for writers.

Ship/Shipping/Shipped: Not floaty things on the ocean blue. Shortened form of “relationship”, it has now become a verb. Refers to fans approving of or wishing that characters would be together romantically.

Example; I shipped Peeta and Katniss through the whole series. Team Peeta all the way!

shipping meme
As a delightful bonus, there are SO many fun shipping memes around now

Low Key: Something fairly private, like a guilty pleasure, or something that is more of a hobby than a full time obsession.

Example; “I low key love Enya’s music.” “We low key party. Like, we’re home by 10.”

*symbols around a sentence*: Denotes physical action, always in the present tense. If I did my research right, it started out being used online for role-playing games to describe actions/sequence of events for readers to picture. Why the star symbol? I have no idea. It just appeared and is now accepted Internet slang.

Example; *Peers at computer screen* *sees zero followers, likes, reads, or visits to site* *cries and hits keyboard in dramatic fashion* *Deletes site*

No Chill/Zero Chill: Someone who is too scared, angry or reckless to think rationally has lost their chill. Generally this refers to that person overreacting.

It also can refer to being ruthless, as in, acting with zero chill towards someone else. Saying something very offensive, knowing it’s offensive, and not caring at all that it will make the person you’re speaking to angry, is an example of having no chill.

no chill.gif

Smol/Smol bean: Diminutive form of the word “small”, this is meant to express how adorable and cute something is. Much emphasis on cute.

Example; my smol son is the sassiest of my three children.

Random Capitalized Letters/AlTeRNaTiNg cAPS: Tread carefully with this one, it can be annoying. It’s very fluid and the meaning changes from person to person, but in general it is a way to visually express that you are mocking something.

It’s partly emphasis (BUT NOT SHOUTING) and partly irony, with a big dash of sarcasm.

Example; Cait on the blog Paper Fury has a nice, deft touch with this type of humor. See this post of hers for examples, and also she is freaking hilarious. Amy Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff also use this technique for their anti-hero artificial intelligence system AIDAN in the Illuminae Files.

Cinnamon Roll: This one literally evolved from a satire website headline that went viral and was perverted by fandoms for their own use. (I really love this.)

The website The Onion ran an article about a “beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure for this world, gone too soon.” In the fandom world it now means a character who is adorable, sweet, and nice and gets more pain heaped on them than their innocent souls deserve.

Example; Any character you feel didn’t deserve all the bad things that happen to them is a cinnamon roll.

cinnamon roll gif
Tara Maclay is a good example of a cinnamon roll character. (And I apologize for the trauma this scene is inflicting on all you fellow Buffy fans. I’m crying too.)

Go have some fun with modern slang! Most of it will be different next year, so get it while it’s hot. There are hundreds of terms I didn’t include in this post, partly to keep it short and readable, mostly because I hope that by ignoring slang like “bae” it will die a natural death and go away forever.

Also, I feel truly sorry but also somehow happy for future linguists who have to sit down and try to figure this stuff out.

For some more slang with a West Coast California twist, check out the second installment A General Slang Dictionary for Writers

 

photo courtesy: stocksnap.io via Aaron Burden

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